10 Things (and one bonus) I've Learned in 22 Years

10 Things (and one bonus) I've Learned in 22 Years

Top lessons I've learned in 22 years
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A new year in life brings new challenges and a time to reflect on the things you've learned in the past year. I have experienced such a personal development, especially in the last year, and I have also seen others struggling through the same things I did. This may help, it may not. But I certainly know that these are some pieces of advice I certainly could have used.

1. Life is not a spectator's sport

Go out and experience things rather than just sitting in your room. Your friends are going to a party and they invite you? Go! You get the chance to visit another country? Go! Life is too short to miss out on priceless experiences. Make sure there is nothing to regret when you're older.

2. Taking care of yourself is not selfish

We all need to take care of ourselves mentally and physically. Eating well and practicing healthy habits can do wonders for our stressful lives. And yes, you're still fun if you decide to eat healthier than your friends are at lunch or if you need to pass on going to Applebee's because you're having a crap mental health day. Sometimes you need to take care of yourself.

3. Changing yourself for YOU is okay

Feeling not at 100% and want to change that? Great! Go for it!! In this specific case I'm talking about weight. I've found that every time I say to someone that I want to eat healthier and/or lose weight, they instantly come up with reasons for me to doubt myself or my choice. Change (in a safe way) to make yourself happy, no one else.

4. Take a risk

Not sure if you'd look good with red hair but want to dye it anyway? Do it. Go bungee jumping if you're a thrill seeker. Getting out of your comfort zone will open you up as an individual and leave you with fun memories.

5. Ending unhealthy relationships doesn't make you a bad person

Some people are meant to be in our lives and some people aren't. That's okay. If someone makes you feel insignificant, maybe they aren't the best fit for your life or your way forward. It doesn't make you a terrible human being to cut ties with unhelpful people.

6. Be outspoken

You're going to come face-to-face with people who want to put you or your ideas down. Speak up. Don't let anyone walk all over you.

7. Test your limits

See what you can do (and do it safely).

8. It's okay if you're not who your parents thought you'd be

Whether it's from physicality to sexuality or anything in between, you are your own individual. You are not bound to your parents' perceptions or ideas of who you should be, in their eyes.

9. Stay young

In this world, it's easy to become bitter and closed off. Try to enjoy what made you happy when you were younger and remember the joy you felt at the world. Hold onto it as long as you can.

10. Nap when you can

You'll lose sleep over significant others, school, friends, family, etc. Treasure your naps.

11. Find your family

Friends can, are, and will be family. They will be there when no one else is. Find them and hold them tight.

Cover Image Credit: Nyxx

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To The Girl Who Had A Plan

A letter to the girl whose life is not going according to her plan.
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“I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” - William Ernest Henley

Since we were little girls we have been asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” We responded with astronauts, teachers, presidents, nurses, etc. Then we start growing up, and our plans change.

In middle school, our plans were molded based on our friends and whatever was cool at the time. Eventually, we went to high school and this question became serious, along with some others: “What are your plans for college?” “What are you going to major in?” “When do you think you’ll get married?” “Are you going to stay friends with your friends?” We are bombarded with these questions we are supposed to have answers to, so we start making plans.

Plans, like going to college with our best friends and getting a degree we’ve been dreaming about. Plans, to get married as soon as we can. We make plans for how to lose weight and get healthy. We make plans for our weddings and children.

SEE ALSO: 19 Pieces Of Advice From A Soon-To-Be 20-Year-Old

We fill our Pinterest boards with these dreams and hopes that we have, which are really great things to do, but what happens when you don’t get into that college? What happens when your best friend chooses to go somewhere else? Or, what if you don’t get the scholarship you need or the awards you thought you deserved. Maybe, the guy you thought you would marry breaks your heart. You might gain a few pounds instead of losing them. Your parents get divorced. Someone you love gets cancer. You don’t get the grades you need. You don’t make that collegiate sports team. The sorority you’re a legacy to, drops you. You didn’t get the job or internship you applied for. What happens to you when this plan doesn’t go your way?

I’ve been there.

The answer for that is “I have this hope that is an anchor for my soul.” Soon we all realize we are not the captain of our fate. We don’t have everything under control nor will we ever have control of every situation in our lives. But, there is someone who is working all things together for the good of those who love him, who has a plan and a purpose for the lives of his children. His name is Jesus. When life takes a turn you aren’t expecting, those are the times you have to cling to Him the tightest, trusting that His plan is what is best. That is easier said than done, but keep pursuing Him. I have found in my life that His plans were always better than mine, and slowly He’s revealing that to me.

The end of your plan isn’t the end of your life. There is more out there. You may not be the captain of your fate, but you can be the master of your soul. You can choose to be happy despite your circumstances. You can change directions at any point and go a different way. You can take the bad and make something beautiful out of it, if you allow God to work in your heart.

SEE ALSO: To The Girl Patiently Waiting With An Impatient Heart

So, make the best of that school you did get in to. Own it. Make new friends- you may find they are better than the old ones. Apply for more scholarships, or get a job. Move on from the guy that broke your heart; he does not deserve you. God has a guy lined up for you who will love you completely. Spend all the time you can with the loved one with cancer. Pray, pray hard for healing. Study more. Apply for more jobs, or try to spend your summer serving others instead. Join a different club or get involved in other organizations on campus. Find your delight first in God and then pursue other activities that make you happy; He will give you the desires of your heart.

My friend, it is going to be OK.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Beavers Photography

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My Experience Pole Dancing

I took a pole dancing class, and so should you.

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As a girl whose dance experience consists of a kindergarten ballet class and fourth-grade hip-hop class, I had low expectations for myself when my friend said we were going to a pole dancing class for her birthday. Nevertheless, I was excited. Over the years, I have reformed my judgmental and negative view towards sex work in general into a more understanding and nuanced view. This being a world I am not particularly privy to, I was interested to experience some of the behind-the-scenes work in a fun night with friends.

We stepped out of the Uber and into the dance studio, Studio Rouge, furnished with sultry red walls and dim lighting. We shucked our shoes and paired off on the poles. The instructor greeted us warmly, and we randomly drew our "exotic name tags," such as Eden, Pandora, and Chardonnay, and mine, the not-so-sophisticated (perfect for me I suppose) Glitter, to better embody our "exotic alter egos."

We were walked through a basic routine over the course of the hour. We laughed at each other's awkwardness, cheered at each other's success. We surprised ourselves with perfectly-executed body rolls, smooth pivots, and exhilarating spins; while I am somewhat lacking in the hair department, I was able to nail an (imaginary) hair flip. We danced to the bops of Ariana Grande, Rihanna, and some much-appreciated early-2000 throwbacks.

The instructor reminded me of my yoga instructors: positive and encouraging. Other aspects of the class were also reminiscent of yoga -- aligning your body with what your mind tells you to do, movement requiring coordination, balance, and strength, and a safe and welcoming environment.

After spending these recently cold days walking around campus hunched over my steaming coffee cup with a beanie pulled down to my brow, it was nice to experience the freedom and confidence-boosting of this class. It was a girls bonding night spent cultivating sexual energy in a safe space. We ended the class feeling refreshed and elated; it boosted our self-confidence and increased our respect for the strength and skill required of professional exotic dancers. As someone coming from a background where sexual expression is looked upon with disdain and sexual acts are regarded with shame, the experience was empowering and nearly necessary. We can't wait for another lesson.

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